What’s your plan?

By Scott Gordon-Macey, CFP®, CHFC®, CLU®, CASL®, MBA

Many people go through life like a leaf in the wind. They are reactive versus proactive, often letting others dictate their future and happiness.

When it comes to managing your money, proper planning is important. It’s also important to know the difference between a financial advisor and a financial planner.

Having assisted people in gaining clarity in their overall financial goals and challenges for the past 18-plus years, I have seen how flexible planning helps people keep their boat on the charted course, while also course correcting when needed. Clients who work with a financial advisor should be checking in with them at least once a year at a minimum.  If one engages a financial planner, it is typically more frequent, given the amount of planning and moving parts; it is a process and not an event. READ MORE.

When people tell me that they work as a financial planner, I typically pause and ask clarifying questions. People often confuse a financial advisor with a financial planner.  I want to clear it up:

  • A financial advisor is someone who helps create an investment strategy. They will build a portfolio based on the financial goal and timeline, along with a client’s risk tolerance.
  • A financial planner is someone who reviews your overall financial health with a deep dive into the following areas:
    • Cash flow and net worth
    • Protection strategies, such as an emergency fund, disability and life insurance, and long-term care planning.
    • Investment strategies
    • Retirement income planning
    • Estate planning strategies
    • Tax planning Strategies

A financial planner looks at the entire situation to show how each decision affects the financial health of the whole.

Through a more thorough, detailed analysis, one can now see how every individual financial decision affects the entire course.  Often people think they can manage it themselves, or work with one person on one aspect of their financial life.  However, usually, there is some item, some problem, that they did not realize or anticipate that comes up to affect what they are trying to accomplish.

What I am advocating is a deep look at your financial situation and assess whether you are doing whole-person planning, or just working on isolated strategies that may conflict with your overall goals. I would recommend getting a second opinion on your current strategy, to see where you fit in this spectrum.

I think of myself as a “financial educator” or “financial therapist.”  I have seen how proper planning and revisiting one’s plan help bring clarity and a sense of ease to the people I have worked with.  

My suggestion is to always get a second opinion on your current strategies, to see if you are missing something or are working with the wrong person. I would encourage you to review your current strategies and have a thorough discussion with your advisor, or financial planner; or seek someone new.

Discuss thoroughly with your advisor or financial planner, or seek someone new.

Lastly, there appear to be more people needing financial guidance, and fewer people in the business to do so. I would encourage you to go to www.letsmakeaplan.org to find a local certified financial planner (CFP®).

Published in The Business Journal WINTER 2024